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How the Mainstream Media Lied About the Matt Gaetz Case

In order to score political points and smear Republicans, The Daily Beast operated as an agent of the Democratic Party when its staff twisted, omitted and obfuscated key information about the case, writes Will Witt, Editor in Chief of The Florida Standard.

You’ve probably heard and read a ton about the Rep. Matt Gaetz sex-trafficking case, but here’s something the mainstream media never told you: the alleged victim is a hardcore internet pornography performer who sells online videos of her defecating dairy products.

On Valentine’s Day, for instance, she released a Twitter video of her expelling strawberries and whipped cream from her anus. “How I celebrate Valentine’s Day,” the tweet said, bearing a picture of a heart emoji and a link to her Only Fans page, where unfettered content like this merely costs $16 monthly.

The day after, on Wednesday, the Department of Justice made it official: Gaetz would not be criminally charged with sex trafficking Ms. Rivers when she was 17 years old in 2017.

To be clear, there’s not a direct connection between DOJ’s decision and the Twitter video.

But there’s an indirect correlation: Only Fans model Ms. Rivers is not the type of alleged victim that prosecutors would like to put on the witness stand.

Prosecutors always weigh whether they can win a conviction, so they always consider how believable and sympathetic a victim will be perceived by a jury, where it takes a unanimous verdict to convict the alleged perpetrator.

In addition, there was no direct evidence showing Gaetz paid any underage person for sex.

But this was completely lost in all the breathless cable news punditry about Gaetz, or from the liberal outlet that set the tone for the misleading MSM coverage: The Daily Beast, which became the propaganda arm for the defense of the most troubling witness in the case, former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg.

A former Gaetz associate, Greenberg is now serving 11 years in federal prison for a host of crimes – including sex trafficking the minor in question and falsely accusing a political opponent of … get this: being a pedophile.

Nice witness ya got there. Greenberg would say anything to save his skin. A jury just wouldn’t believe him.

Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend also appeared before the grand jury and got an immunity deal, but we don’t know exactly what she said. The fact is she struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid being hit with an obstruction of justice charge. She's more believable, but she's also not a perfect witness.

As for the alleged victim, she continued pumping out pornographic content throughout the investigation (yes, there are Halloween and Christmas videos, too). Her behavior suggests she wasn’t planning to be a sympathetic sex-crimes victim, and perhaps she might have been an unwilling witness.

Also, consider the fact that “sex trafficking a minor” in this case really comes down to paying for sex. Even the judge in this case noted that the alleged victim was just shy of 18, but she was willingly selling herself on a website called SeekingArrangements to Greenberg and other men.

“This minor who was almost 18 was essentially a prostitute,” noted U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell when he sentenced Greenberg on Dec. 1.

That’s how the judge saw the evidence. How do you think a jury in the Middle District of Florida would see this? It’s true that sex trafficking a minor is a strict liability case (if you pay for sex with an underage person, it’s a crime even if the person lied about his or her age) – but juries consist of regular people who often apply common-sense standards that are foreign to liberal pundits.

The mainstream media, and especially The Daily Beast, didn’t really tell you any of this, except for a few sparse references in some scattered reports. POLITICO was the first to note this potential problem with prosecuting Gaetz in a passing reference in a July 2021 article that quoted a lawyer in the case. This attorney wasn’t representing Gaetz but noted that prosecutors could be concerned of not winning a unanimous jury verdict because of the porn issue.

Liberal Twitter sprung into action to shut down the wrongthink.

“As for the Politico story that the Gaetz case is stuck, that’s easy to take apart,” Tristan Snell, a Daily Beast “expert” who constantly and wrongly predicted that Gaetz would be charged, tweeted a few days later. “Greenberg already went from 33 counts to 6. That is not something you do with a ‘bad’ witness. He’s fine. That’s all BS. The part about a victim going into porn feels VERY much like a smear.”

Of course, Snell never mentioned how The Daily Beast smeared one of the women Gaetz had sex with by suggesting she was a coke whore (the article never named the alleged victim, however, because her privacy needed to be protected).

Slut-shaming women is wrong.

Unless it hurts a Republican.

Remember this when guys like Snell make moral statements, predictions or legal analyses. They’re contradictory partisan hacks who don’t know what they’re talking about. Snell still hasn’t admitted he was spreading disinformation about a looming Gaetz indictment.

But nothing matches the hackery of The Daily Beast. When the feds officially declared the case over, yesterday’s Twitter meltdown from The Daily Beast was as epic as it was telling.

“Feds had a confession letter. Private Venmos. Uber receipts. Flight records. Yet they still won't prosecute Congressman Matt Gaetz. This is all the more stunning, because @SollenbergerRC & I were the ones who exposed the evidence for @thedailybeast,” tweeted reporter Jose Pagliery.

This tweet is basically a Rosetta Stone for everything that was wrong with the Beast’s misleading coverage. Let’s break down each sentence of Pagliery’s tweet.

“Feds had a confession letter.” Here’s what Pagliery isn’t telling you: this so-called “confession letter” isn’t from Gaetz. It was written by Greenberg to implicate Gaetz after Greenberg was caught sex trafficking the minor. Calling it a “confession letter” and attaching it to Gaetz is highly misleading – but fairly common for The Daily Beast.

“Private Venmos.” This is where the true disinformation artistry of The Daily Beast comes to light. In April of 2021, the Daily Beast wrote this as a headline: “Gaetz Paid Accused Sex Trafficker, Who Then Venmo’d Teen.” The story caught fire on liberal Twitter. Here was clear evidence that Gaetz had indirectly paid a 17-year-old for sex. Except it wasn’t. Buried in a parenthetical reference was the fact that she had turned 18 at that point. You can’t sex traffic a minor who isn’t a minor. There was no evidence of Gaetz paying the 17-year-old for sex. If it existed, Gaetz would have been charged. Period.

“Uber receipts. Flight records.” Anyone who isn’t following the case would have no idea that Pagliery is now shifting the focus from sex trafficking a minor to another aspect of the investigation: the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines to engage in prostitution. It doesn’t have an age limit. But prosecutors use common sense, and in this case, the transportation involved an orgy-like trip to the Bahamas involving Gaetz, his girlfriend and a host of others, including the then-18-year-old at the center of the case. But to make the charge stick, the women on the trip would have to admit that they’re prostitutes. So much for the Mann Act.

“This is all the more stunning, because @SollenbergerRC & I were the ones who exposed the evidence for @thedailybeast.” By now, it should be clear that it’s not “stunning” that prosecutors won’t bring a case that has: 1) no hard evidence 2) a problematic alleged victim 3) a liar and pedophile as a key witness.

So while Pagliery et al pretend the publication is a bastion of investigative reporting that “exposed the evidence,” its reporters are Democratic operatives who acted as uncritical mouthpieces for the defense of Greenberg, a criminal fraudster and convicted pedophile pretending to care about justice in order to get time off his sentence.

Of course, Gaetz should never have been this guy’s buddy. He appeared to engage in questionable behavior that people of all political persuasions would find problematic.

But the evidence wasn’t there. Nor was ethical, balanced reporting from many outlets. Many in the media need to stop letting the Twitter mob dictate the tone of their coverage.

How many times have we seen this pattern with Donald Trump and all of the go-nowhere investigations into him that are breathlessly hyped on cable and then memory-holed when they hit a brick wall? And how many times should the MSM rely on The Daily Beast? Its coverage here was a disgrace that misled readers, but perhaps intentionally so.

The next time The Daily Beast puts out an “exposé,” remember this story. Because it’s a tabloid spewing partisan fodder about as nutritious as the dairy products expelled from the anus of an internet porn performer.